Off the page, it was smooth sailing for Carlyle and her older sister, who live near each other in New Zealand and worked closely together on the plotlines and prose of The Girl in the Mirror.
“It was really weird because I don’t usually agree with the idea of consensus decision-making but we just never cared whose idea something was and who was right and who was wrong,” Carlyle says.
“We just wanted to get the story right. We felt the story came to us.”
The Girl in the Mirror is part of a strong crop of Australian crime and thriller debuts to be released this year, with publishers seeking to feed reader appetite in the wake of the runaway success of writers including Jane Harper, Chris Hammer and Christian White.
Recent additions to bookshelves include Gabriel Bergmoser’s debut The Hunter, which has been acquired internationally with film rights sold, and Kyle Perry’s debut The Bluffs.
Allen and Unwin have backed The Girl in the Mirror with a significant promotional campaign, and publisher Jane Palfreyman says all the signs are “looking really good” for a breakout hit. The publishing house is hoping it won’t be the only one.
In a bid to find the cream of the crop, A&U has launched a new prize for Australian and New Zealand crime and thriller writers. The winner will score a publishing contract with a $25,000 advance against royalties, with entries to the prize open from the end of this month until February.
Ms Palfreyman said she hoped the prize would attract “strong voices and new talent” as Australian crime writing flourished locally and abroad.
“Some of the crime manuscripts I was seeing come across my desk just didn’t hit the spot for me and I thought maybe a prize might encourage other writers to experiment in the crime genre and maybe just get some crime manuscripts out from bottom drawers,” Ms Palfreyman said.
“I feel like we are riding a really big wave that is only going to get bigger. This is a really good way of seeing what people are working on.
“It’s a bit of a punt but I’m just really curious to see what we can get out of it.”
Carlyle is now onto her second book, and her relationship with her sister remains more than a few oceans apart from the destructive relationship of her twin characters.
“We were incredibly unqualified,” Carlyle says. “There we were demonstrating on a daily basis that our relationship was nothing like the relationship we were talking about which is nothing like us.
“Our belly muscles just got the biggest workout.”
Rose Carlyle’s The Girl in the Mirror (Allen and Unwin) is out now.
Melanie Kembrey is Spectrum Deputy Editor at the Sydney Morning Herald.